Carved over millions of years as the Kettle River scoured through its metamorphic rock, the Cascade Gorge is one of our most treasured natural attractions. In the spring, the winter melt off surges through the canyon with an awesome display of power; by the end of summer the water levels recede to reveal the series of “kettles” carved in to the canyon walls and basin. A “must see” attraction while in the region, it must be experienced in person to be fully appreciated.
The gorge is also the site of the region’s first AC power generating station. The Cascade Dam dam at the head of the gorge diverted the Kettle River through a 125 m tunnel bored through solid rock into a man-made rock cut where the water entered a pair of 2 m diameter wooden stave pipes 500 m in length before reaching the power station at the foot of the gorge. The remains of this monumental undertaking can still be found, with the concrete bulkhead now forming a foot bridge to the viewing areas. For more information on the Cascade Dam visit the virtual museum website.
Exercise extreme caution while exploring this area, as the rocks can be slippery, and there are no guardrails or fencing. Enjoy the views from a safe distance.
There are two primary access points to the gorge section.
Gorge Canyon Trestle Bridge to Cascade Falls
Heading west from Christina Lake on Highway #3, pull into the turnout on your left just past the 395 junction where the welcome sign is located. Here you will find the short descent to the Trans Canada Trail. Once you reach the main trail, to your right is the bridge, which offers some great photo opportunities of the Kettle River winding underneath through the narrow rock fissure. To the south of the bridge is where the Cascade Dam stood from1898 to 1922.
Following the railway bed, after about a five minute walk you will find the top of the old concrete bulkhead off to your left. After crossing the bulkhead, follow the path to your right which will lead you out to the cliff face for a spectacular view of the gorge and falls.
Cascade Falls to penstock trail
After leaving Christina Lake, follow Highway #3 and take the Highway #395 turnoff. Immediately after crossing the bridge, pull off to your right where you will find a fairly steep staircase taking you up to the falls trail. This hike offers a couple of options;
To get to the closest vantage point for the falls, take the path leading off the main trail to your right, which will get you to the east bluff and Rainbow Rock. From here, you can follow a trail skirting the gorge to other view points.
Continuing on the main trail will take you to into a rock cut to the base of the old control gate bulkhead and into the penstock, past the ruins of the spillways and further on to the entrance of what is now a giant cave, originally the tunnel through which water was diverted from the river into the penstock.
You can also get to the west side of the gorge by turning right before you arrive at the bulkhead. Access to the railway grade is by crossing the bulkhead and climbing a short embankment. Turning to your right (west) will take you to the gorge trestle bridge and back to Highway #3. Following the rail bed to your left (east) will bring you to Highway #395, and on to the long trestle bridge